Construction is a large and complex worldwide industry constantly shaped by new information technologies, advanced materials, environmental policies, regulations and changing building methods. Most importantly, though, construction is shaped by people. Sustaining a strong industry requires attracting and valuing a skilled, career-driven, high quality workforce... who also like to build! How is the construction industry attracting the skilled workforce for future growth market demands? Do prospective candidates see construction as a viable career choice?

Marek Dallas Division President John Hinson wrote the following President’s Message for AWCI's Construction Dimension magazine. Hinson is the 2015-2016 President of AWCI. 

Here’s an inspiring tale about someone I think of as part of the Greatest Generation. He is a founding father of the Marek Company.

When I first hired on, the Mareks owned some properties that they generously allowed employees to enjoy during vacations. Very early one morning at the beginning of my career when my family and I were staying at one of the company’s properties at Circle Lake, northwest of Houston, Ralph Marek came to the door to offer my mother a basket full of fresh tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and okra.

“Welcome to Circle Lake,” he said. “Can you find a good use for these? I just picked them and I don’t want ’em to go bad.” He set them down and headed back to the garden.

I was impressed that one of the company’s founders picked his own vegetables—and that he brought them to an employee as a gift. It was then that my mother, affectionately known to everyone as “Grandma Dot,” gave me what she said would be the most important advice she would ever give me.    Read more » about Message Hits Home

One of the organizations we’re proud to partner with at Construction Citizen is Neighborhood Centers in Houston, where they’ve now officially launched a new workforce initiative aimed at helping 1,000 people find living wage, middle-skill jobs. Those are good-paying careers that require more than a high school diploma or its equivalent but less than a four-year degree.

The initiative, called ASPIRE, is already connecting people with various training programs. Some of those programs include a cost for the student but others don't cost anything for the individual. Many of the applicants so far are making around $13 to $15 per hour with the goal of transitioning to around $21 per hour.

The official kickoff was last Wednesday when JPMorgan Chase President and CEO Jamie Dimon visited Houston to present Neighborhood Centers with a check for $1 million.    Read more » about Neighborhood Centers Launches Huge Workforce Initiative in Houston

According to Construction Dive, CNBC reports that Goldman Sachs recently released a report that states that in the residential construction industry, there is no labor shortage. In fact, the report says that since the payroll labor rates have not gone up at high enough rates to meet their criteria, there is no shortage at all.

"Economics 101 would suggest that, if labor shortages did in fact exist, upward pressure on wages would be more pronounced and payroll growth would be anemic," the report said. "Therefore, the evidence from the industry-level employment and wage data does not support the existence of labor shortages in the construction sector."

The post points to a report from John Burns Consulting, which surveyed over 100 homebuilders, which states, according to both CNBC and Construction Dive, that the lackluster performance is due to the lack of available development land and major delays in obtaining construction permits.   Read more » about Labor Shortage?

A broad cross section of construction and construction-related business associations are asking leaders in both parties in Washington to make career training a priority this year. In a letter to Congressional leaders, the groups said they’re facing a problem that business, educators, and government must work in concert to address: A skilled labor shortage.

The groups said reauthorizing and updating the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act would offer a chance for lawmakers to work in a bipartisan way and address a serious need. The act expired several years ago.   Read more » about Construction Groups Ask Congress to Focus on Skilled Worker Shortage

Originally published in the Houston Chronicle.  Reprinted with permission.

As someone intimately familiar with the economic realities of the situation, I am quite disappointed by the immigration arguments made by the Texas Attorney General’s Office before the United States Supreme Court last week.

Regardless of your position on President Obama’s executive action protecting immigrants from deportation or the State of Texas’ claim that driver’s licenses for them would be an unfair burden, one fact is inescapable: they are here and they are not going anywhere.

An estimated 2.5 million are in Texas and many of them are doing a majority of the construction work, usually for low wages and under dangerous conditions. They’re also cooking our food, mowing our lawns, cleaning our buildings and performing many other necessary tasks.    Read more » about Undocumenting Our Interests

Construction companies in Indiana will need to hire more than 61,000 workers over the next two years.  This alarming statistic is why the Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation partnered with Build Your Future (BYF) to create the Build Your Future Indiana campaign.  The campaign is used by a unique collaboration of employers, state agencies and industry associations all working together to encourage residents to learn about construction careers and training opportunities now emerging in the state.

To kick off the campaign, Build Your Future Indiana was launched earlier this year, and customized promotional materials – such as trading cards, posters, brochures, wristbands, sunglasses, stickers, cups, carpenter pencils, lanyards and bookmarks – were sent to more than 1,000 Indiana high schools.  Along with these materials, customized presentations, videos and career day resources were also created for Build Your Future Indiana to promote in schools, meetings, conferences and career days across the state.  While BYF resources are available for any organization, BYF partners have the ability to customize material with their own branding and information, which can contribute greatly to the success of their campaigns.

In the few short months since Build Your Future Indiana was created, over 1 million people have already viewed the TV commercials (see the three short videos below) that BYF customized for the partnership.   Read more » about Indiana Partners with Build Your Future to Close the State’s Construction Skills Gap

Safety is primary on every construction site. Everyone. No exceptions.

Construction is ubiquitous in Houston. So prevalent that sometimes I think that I should be wearing a hard hat just to drive around my neighborhood.

Recently, I was meeting a colleague for a “coffee time” at a watering hole nearby. On the way, I had to weave around the front end loaders, trenchers, pot holes, and patches that are part of sewer and water line replacement that has been underway over the last year.

I was stuck behind a work crew and a hot mix truck on its way for an overlay job. I noticed that the crew all had their “Personal Protective Equipment” (PPE) on as they worked. Hard hats, steel toed boots, and safety vests were all in place. The safety engineers would be pleased.    Read more » about Hard Hat, Not Hard Head

The following article originally appeared in the April newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC.  Reprinted with permission.

The recent National AGC Annual Convention in San Antonio was both convenient and compelling.  It provided an ideal venue for gaining perspective; for learning; for reconnecting with many friends, and this particular year for celebrating the leadership of two fellow Houstonians.  Chuck Greco, Chairman of Linbeck, ended his highly productive year as President of National AGC, only the second Houstonian to hold that office.  (Warren Bellows did it in 1948.)  Then Jerry Nevlud, CEO of Houston AGC, passed the gavel to his successor at the Executive Leadership Council, the national group for Chief Staff Executives.  Peer respect for the job each had done was earned and evident.

The new streamlined convention format places an emphasis on education and exhibits, as opposed to laborious committee meetings.  Because of this, younger people, still fully engaged in their businesses, are there.  These ascending leaders add both energy and future focus to topics and discussions.   Read more » about The National Convention: Celebration, Education, Anticipation